Feb. 1, 2010 -- Andrew Young, ex-aide to former North Carolina senator and Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, writes with an insider's knowledge about intimate details of the scandal that ended Edwards' promising political career.
In "The Politician: An Insider's Account of John Edwards's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down," Young discusses the affair Edwards had with Rielle Hunter and writes about how Edwards' schemed to hide his mistress' pregnancy from his wife and the electorate.
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The senator first met Rielle in early 2006 when he was in New York during a cross-country speaking tour with actor Danny Glover on behalf of hotel workers who wanted his help at union rallies. As she eventually told me herself, she saw Edwards in the lounge of the Regency, a five-star hotel on Park Avenue. A tall, slender blonde with blue eyes and a warm smile, Rielle was the kind of woman who moved comfortably in a place like the Regency lounge, where at any given time half the tables are occupied by big-money power brokers and celebrities. Her sense of ease in such settings had been acquired over time, as she had tried to climb the social ladder in the world's most important city. As I heard it, she moved like someone who was practiced at identifying rich men, married or not, and connecting with them -- at least temporarily.
Born Lisa Druck and raised in Ocala, Florida, she had dropped out of college and moved to New York City in her early twenties. Drawn to the cocaine- fueled fast life enjoyed by young artists, writers, and fashion models, she quickly earned a reputation as a sexually liberated party girl. She briefly dated the writer Jay McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City) and inspired the repulsive character Alison Poole, who appears in two of his books. In 1991, she married attorney Alexander Hunter and changed her name to Rielle Hunter. (This new name allowed her to escape the shame associated with her infamous father, who had participated in a horse-killing insurance scam.) Rielle did a little acting, produced a short film, and in 2002 appeared on a TV game show. She had studied Eastern and New Age religion for years, seeking some special understanding of her place in this world and whatever lies beyond. By the time she saw John Edwards, she had lived much of her life on the edge of glamour, wealth, and enlightenment but was, at forty-one, divorced, unemployed, and living rent- free with a friend in New Jersey named Margaret "Mimi" Hockman.
According to Rielle, when she first saw John Edwards, she noticed "an aura" of energy floating over him. When she made eye contact with the senator, she knew their destinies were intertwined, and that she had been sent to Earth to serve him. His "old soul" had known her "old soul" in a previous life, she said. She asked him if he was the candidate she had seen on television. After he identified himself, she said, "You're so hot, but on television that doesn't come through. You seem distant. I can help you with that."
Rielle said that Edwards gave off an "energy" that told her he could be a powerful force for peace and progress, like Martin Luther King Jr. She decided immediately that she would devote herself to helping him reach this potential. This assistance would begin later, after she arranged to bump into him on the sidewalk, where she would flirt some more.
As Rielle later told Cheri and me, she recognized that the senator was married and her attraction was mixed with a feeling that he was somehow "dangerous." But when he gave her one of the key cards for his room, she waited a few minutes and then followed him upstairs. Inside the room, they sat for a while on separate beds (she was trying to play hard to get). Rielle said he got her to come over to the bed where he was relaxing by saying, "Hey, c'mere and watch some TV with me."